It is the integrated strategy that defines what approach and tactics you are going to adopt in running your small business. In the absence of a well-defined and well-developed strategy, your small business is doomed. When trying to capture the attention of a niche audience, it's important to know the exact demographic you want to attract and what will grab them in the most effective way.
Merissa Himraj, chief strategy officer at Wavemaker South Africa
A media strategy is a plan of action that helps your business reach its target audience and to improve the overall customer conversion rate.
Merissa Himraj, chief strategy officer at Wavemaker South Africa, shares some insight into media and marketing activities for SMEs...
Why should SMEs plan for marketing activities?
SMMEs need to position their goods and services in the market in order to let consumers know what they are selling. If this activity is planned, rather than reactive, the SMME then manages the outcomes and narrative of their presence in the mind of the consumer.
A plan allows an SMME to think out and adjust for the demand of the market they want to serve, and allocate time and resources accordingly.
What is the importance of planning a marketing strategy? How does it impact on business?
One of the most important things is understanding how you will appear as a brand/product or service to a consumer. Having a clear strategy of who your ideal customer is, what about your product would entice and excite them, and when and where you want to talk to them will give you a clear roadmap for the business.
The impact of having planned your marketing strategy is that you can effectively manage your budget of marketing spend as well as your operational costs. Not planning to advertise your goods and services is a sure-fire way of not planning to be successful.
People will not suddenly stumble across your brand organically, you need to let them know you are open for business. Consider that marketing your business is a bit like rolling into town and announcing that you have goods to sell.
What advice do you have in planning a marketing strategy?
Firstly, as the owner of a small business, your drive and vision has got you to a point of having a viable operation, do not leave the marketing to last. Build your marketing strategy from the ground up, taking into account all the reasons why you have the business.
While a marketing professional will help you with finessing the overall strategy, and provide more technical insights, do be as involved as possible in the process.
The essence of the business needs to form part of the strategy. There are many free online resources that can help with building your strategy, as well as free online courses on Udemy and Coursera that can assist.
How does the lack of strategy give your competitors an advantage?
If you don’t have any kind of strategy and your competitors do, they will appear in advertising more consistently and be able to build memory structures with consumers, giving them an advantage over your unknown business.
This will simply be because a consumer will be able to recognise the competitor brand having seen them advertise, and will not know your brand at all. Over time consumers will choose the competition because they recognise them, even if your product offering is of a higher quality or at a better price point.
Storytelling is a new form of advertising and creating awareness for brands. How important is this for business?
Storytelling in this day and age is crucial for a brand. Consumers now want to know more about the brands they are choosing to purchase. Letting your target consumers learn about the brand origins, inspiration and vision builds a support base very quickly and can translate into extremely effective business success. This does not mean you have to only rely on storytelling, it does mean you need to be open to sharing a bit more about your brand or business than older more established brands have had to.
These days consumers are curious around your environmental footprint, sustainability and impact as well as ethical sourcing and trading. By providing this type of information through your brand story, you establish trust with consumers, which ultimately leads to loyalty and sales.
What is the role of integrated communications in driving success?
Integrated communications are important for success. Consumers are connecting to multiple touchpoints throughout their day in order to get information or be entertained. Ensuring that your brand message is consistent across all the places where a consumer will interact with you, allows for a strong brand identity to be established and maintained.
This doesn’t mean all creative needs to look the same, but rather that key communication pillars resonate and deliver the same message at every touchpoint from owned (website, app, social media) to earned (PR) and paid channels.
How can businesses create a workspace that gives everyone a voice?
To be a workspace that gives everyone a voice, you must apply a few principles:
Agree to be a workspace that gives everyone a voice, this cannot just be lip service, this must be practically allowed and reinforced by the most senior team
Decide that you really want feedback even if this might not be positive all the time,
Be authentic in your interaction with people, how you listen is as important as how you respond
Don’t be afraid to answer the hard questions even if it is to say that you cannot share information just yet, by not avoiding any difficult topics, you create the atmosphere that allows for a communicative workspace where everyone feels free to voice an opinion
Provide more than one way that employees can share their thoughts or ideas, not everyone is a verbal communicator, so provide email groups, Teams or WhatsApp’s or even an office whiteboard for ideas or inputs to be shared.
Lastly be consistent – regular discussion becomes the way a company operates or works, it becomes baked into the company DNA, the only way to achieve this is through consistent practice. Like almost everything we have discussed, consistency is a recurring theme.
What advice do you have for a healthy work-life balance?
Ok so this might be an unpopular opinion, but I believe that the notion of work-life balance is a flawed one.
I used to try and strive for a work-life balance, and when I did that I felt like I was letting one or the other side of my life down, and I usually was letting something slide somewhere. Over time I have learnt some techniques that give me a way to provide valuable input at both work and at home.
At work, I put in the time required, and I am disciplined about the time allocated to work. Sometimes however work will encroach on family time, but I feel this comes with the territory in which I chose to operate. When it comes to the 'life stuff', I am fortunate enough to work at a company that also allows me to swing things around, so when family responsibility encroaches on work time I am able to deal with that with no guilt and an understanding from my senior team of why I am not available or need to take a morning out of the workday to get some stuff done.
Being treated like a responsible adult and acting like one makes a lot of difference. Another one of the crucial things I did get right as a working parent was to instil a lot of rituals at home as a family that became important – so there that are things I don’t miss even if I am working late or out of the country, which is made easier by great technology like video calling. Making time to show my family they matter most, no matter how much work I might need to get done, is how I have managed to achieve balance with work and life so far.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Message Board accepts no liability of legal consequences that arise from the Message Boards (e.g. defamation, slander, or other such crimes). All posted messages are the sole property of their respective authors. The maintainer does retain the right to remove any message posts for whatever reasons. People that post messages to this forum are not to libel/slander nor in any other way depict a company, entity, individual(s), or service in a false light; should they do so, the legal consequences are theirs alone. Bizcommunity.com will disclose authors' IP addresses to authorities if compelled to do so by a court of law.